View Full Version : Streamlined magic system?

2012-02-21, 10:58 PM
Has anyone seen any homebrews or obscure classes/systems that handle magic in such a way that there are very few spells, but they can be expanded into other effects over time?

For example, the 1st level magician would have access to most of the available spells (as opposed to the dnd standard where you choose a few out of potentially hundreds or more), where each "spell" represents a certain facet or method of applying magic. Some spells might be Time, Summon, Enhance, Change, Illusion, Detect, Control, Prestidigitation, Disrupt, etc.
Each of these would represent a facet of magic, and open the door for the magician to utilize magic in that vein. At first level the wizard could cast Time in the form that would mimic the Slow spell against one target. After more experience he can choose to use Time to Slow or Haste, and eventually replicate the effects of other expected spells that have to deal with time or the rate at which things happen in a simplified and scaling manner. In parallel, the effects of Time will be applicable to more targets or in different shapes, and for a longer duration as the magician levels.

Instead of a large number of different spells with different targets, saves, and durations, you'd have one spell with a scaling progression and a list of effects that you can use it for at various levels. Each effect would list it's own damage or value die (so you could have a fire effect or force effect for the same spell, but the fire could do d8 as it's more resistible, and force would do d6 as it's less resistible), but would be independent of things like duration and saves.

It just seems to me that the whole wizard/sorcerer spell list has way too many spells for as many things you actually want to do when you could just leave the fluff and description up to the player and let the spell itself just present a toolbox of mechanics.

Why have Owl's Wisdom, Eagle's Grace, Enlarge, etc. when all you're doing is modifying a value somewhere when you could just cast Enhance and see what and how much you can enhance at your level?

Just about everything out there tends to boil down to "like that other spell, but", so why not just take that and roll with it?

2012-02-21, 11:06 PM
It's a good idea, but if improperly handled, it would provide much room for abuse.

I actually like it better than the standard spellcasting system, as it involves the player in the act.

2012-02-21, 11:45 PM
I just wasn't sure if it or something similar already existed.

I don't see how it would be improperly handled, you just make an informed decision about what should be available when, and then just go with it. Anything that doesn't fit is discarded if unnecessary (which many spells are due to just being slightly different variations of other spells), and assigned to some grab-bag spell like prestidigitation (which in this form would scale all the way to max level) or whatever if necessary or iconic. I definitely like the idea of Prestidigitation going all the way up and incorporating all the crazy wizard tricks that don't necessarily fit a specific theme. As far as the little low level tricks though, while there wouldn't be spell levels anymore (no 1, 3, 9 level spells, just spells), the individual spells could include their own inherent tricks, such as my example of the Time spell allowing a wizard to always know what time it is or any other little thing you could rationalize.

Dungeons and Dragons leaves a lot of room for abuse. If you are in a situation where someone will try and abuse the rules, then they can do that just fine as is, if you let them. Trying to make something perfect isn't going to work in systems that are already broken for abuse. Something can still be found that works though.

2012-02-22, 12:10 AM
I don't see how it would be improperly handled, you just make an informed decision about what should be available when, and then just go with it.

If you don't think that something like that can be abused, easily, you haven't been clicking around here long enough!

But frankly that's not a criticism against your system, since even the current 3.5 rules can be abused in ways that the game designers don't seem to realize. I actually think your idea is really interesting. The structure is similar to the both the Epic spellcasting rules (which feature building (epic) spells (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/spellsIntro.htm) by gluing together the "seeds" such as afflict (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/seeds/afflict.htm), banish (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/seeds/reveal.htm), and reveal (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/seeds/reveal.htm) -- and a boatload of XP and gold, not to mention time -- into outlandishly powerful magical effects). There's no reason why something like that couldn't be adapted to work for all spells rather than just epic magic.

For some elaboration on a similar system, check out Paizo's "Spell Seeds", written by the makers of Pathfinder. It features constructing spells using seeds...

Just about everything out there tends to boil down to "like that other spell, but", so why not just take that and roll with it?

Good poinit.

2012-02-22, 01:50 AM
Oh, I know things can be abused. Figuring out how to improve an already OP build is a small hobby of mine. If we were worried about things being abused we'd never make anything.

Here's an idea of what I'm talking about though (obviously not optimized, just throwing crap out there), continuing with the Time spell since I can copypasta a bit of what I already said.

You focus on magic related to time, and the rate at which things happen.
Focus on Time provides all castings of the Time spell (that include a duration) with a +2 bonus to the number of rounds in the spell duration.

You always know what time it is, whether at home, the other side of the world, or your favorite N-dimensional diner.

You age twice as slowly as is normal for your race.
Lvl 1: Slow (slimmed down version of the slow spell, numerical values may change based on mechanics factors)
Lvl 5: Haste (similar to normal haste, but dependent on mechanics factors)
Lvl 11: Magically Age (you can magically imbue the subject(s) with the bonuses and penalties of 1 age group higher or lower)
Lvl 17: Time Stop (you may act freely for a number of rounds based on mechanics factors)

Each of those will have a little "V, S, M" to determine whether you can use them in a certain situation, similar to standard spells.

This starts at Self or Targeted, and expands to include various shapes over time.

Will Negates

Math-hammer happens here to give a nice easy way of figuring out any number used for any spell combination at any given level. How many damage die you will roll for an effect, how long the duration is for a certain level spell (high power spells will have lower durations, and lower power spells will be more useful over longer periods of time), etc.

For maybe another paragraph worth of total space in the end result, the entire thing wouldn't take up too much more than that, and everything you'd want to look at is right there where you can tailor the spell to what you want.
A slow spell in an area if you're high enough level to have the area shape. I Time Stop for two people at half the duration?

Each main spell has it's own little bonuses that set it apart.
Time has a bonus to duration and a couple minor tricks or thematic elements.
Another main spell might get a small bonus to DC's, or require less V,S,M components, etc.

Milo v3
2012-02-22, 03:37 AM
What your want is the spell system from Talislanta. It is probably the closest you will ever find.

Their is no spells you just use the different types of spells. Like animate, attack, summoning, moving, etc.

The spell system doesn't even have any fluff and actually says that whatever fluff you add should have minor effects on the spell.

You can actually have two different types casters cast the same spell mechanically but have different uses.
A pyromancer might use a spell to lift objects, but because it works with fire it creates light and can set what your lifting on fire.
A Aeromancer might use the same spell, but because it works by twisting air it is doesn't burn what you pick up but doesn't create light either.

2012-02-22, 06:00 AM
Has anyone seen any homebrews or obscure classes/systems that handle magic in such a way that there are very few spells, but they can be expanded into other effects over time?

EN World's Elements of Magic (http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?it=1&products_id=2554) has a system like that.

I've read that Monte Cook's World of Darkness (http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/13/13404.phtml) also uses a system of that sort, but never got a hold of that book, so I'm not sure how good it is.

Systems ranging from WW's Mage system to Trinity's 'freeform Psionics' system (from the Trinity Player's Guide) to Green Ronin's Complete Psychic Handbook could perhaps also be pillaged to make a quicker and easier form of this sort of system, I suspect.

2012-02-22, 06:42 AM
Not d20, not even remotely, but have you had a look at the Mage Systems by White Wolf, or Ars Magica? They basically work like that.

Dante & Vergil
2012-03-13, 09:49 PM
True Sorcery (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=20498&it=1&filters=0_0_10080_0_0) by Green Ronin is just like this, which may be something you want to check out.

2012-03-13, 09:55 PM
So essesntially your changing the setup to be more treelike, starting with a few basic spells that branch into different uses along a similar theme?

Hmm. Might be some tweaking involved, but yes. That could be cool

2012-03-13, 10:04 PM
I considered making one;
It's really not hard at all to build such a class by simply tweaking the numbers in the epic spell seed system.
alot of the seeds can be translated quite directly;
a few other things would need special seeds or patterning in order to work; but not that many in order to yield most spells.
Then you just limit casters to one or a small number of seeds.

How much interest is there in actually making one?

2012-03-14, 04:49 PM
I have an interest if youd like me to help.

2012-03-14, 04:54 PM
I'm actually planning something of the sort for my system rebuild.